The creative industry in Nigeria had an evening of tributes for my friend, Oronto Natei Douglas at the Eko Hotel last Tuesday to celebrate the exit of a giant. It was an evening of tears and occasional laughter given the persona that was being celebrated.
Right from the opening prayer led by Nigerian ambassador to the U.S., Prof Ade Adefuye, through the beautiful renditions of Sammy Okposo and Timi Dakolo, to the tearful tributes of Ibinabo Fiberesima, Genevieve Nnaji, Von Kemedi and the exhortation of Pastor Hilda Dokubo, it was a night to remember for a long time to come. Former Governor Peter Obi, Culture Minister, Chief Edem Duke and AMCON boss, Mustafa Chike-Obi were all on hand to add their voices to the night.
The greatest revelation of the night for me however was seeing Barrister Joi Nunieh dotting on Ogie Oronto-Douglas, the 10-year old eldest son of the deceased throughout the event.
As we made our way out of the hall, I saw Joi still holding Ogei and she told me joyfully: “Ogei is my godson”.
Why that would appear surprising is that we live in an immature environment where people allow political prejudices to becloud relationship and in the process behave like savages. Oronto and Joi were of different political persuasions but here is Joi the godmother to Oronto’s son.
Ogei however put the whole issue in perspective in a handwritten tribute to his daddy on page 27 of “Unforgettable…” where he wrote as follows: “… you taught us to be non-tribalistic, to be friendly, to be humble and to be trusted in school. But most of all, I remember when I asked you why you were in PDP and Mama Joy -my godmother was in CPC/APC, you replied me by saying friendship comes over political parties. When you said that, I learnt that friendship is very important in life no matter tribe, religion, political party or anything else”.
I have no doubt that Ogei will carry his father’s name forward as he wrote further in the tribute to his dad having imbibed this lesson as a lad.
Above all, adults who behave like lunatics over politics must take their jotters and pencils to take lessons from this young boy whose mind has been framed by the one I called “one of the best of my generation”.
May Ogei’s tribe increase in the land where intolerance is the order of the day and people behave like Boko Haram if others exercise choices different from their own.
Part of the reasons why democracy cannot grow yet in Nigeria is that most Nigerians are natural autocrats who find it difficult to allow other people to hold their views.
This tendency has made many parents to distort their children’s destinies by forcing them to take career paths they dictate against the natural inclinations of these young ones.
These undemocratic demons slander those they cannot dictate to or even hire assassins to take out those they cannot dictate to. Must it be that?
Sri Chinmoy says:
Is a secret and sacred way
To enrich our human life.
Strength and tolerance
Must be eternal partners
To be victorious in life.
India is not Hindu, Muslim or Buddhist.
India is India.
Its tolerance is more than ready
To freely house all religions.
Tolerance is not peace,
But from tolerance,
In the near or distant future,
Peace may blossom.
If I cannot have compassion-power,
Let me have forgiveness-power.
If I cannot have forgiveness-power,
Let me have tolerance-power.
If I cannot have tolerance-power,
Let me at least delay
Yinka Odumakin is a political activist and National Publicity Secretary of Pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afrenifere.
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